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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Civil war or hype?

I am wary about commenting once more on the talks going on in the Assembly after somebody on my previous post accused me of lacking insight. That could be because like many other members I am sitting on the outside looking in. Nevertheless I have a view, which I will continue to give. If you want insight then, for now, look elsewhere.

Today's Western Mail plays up the prospect of civil war within Labour if Rhodri Morgan, with the backing of the Trade Unions, signs them up to campaign for a 'yes' vote in a referendum on more powers. However, one cannot help but get the feeling that this rebellion is not representative of the whole Wales Labour Party. A comment by 'Patriot' on the last post sums it up:

As always in such things the small minority opposed to an idea make far more noise than the majority in favour. The vast majority of active Labour members want to see a centre left government and the Tories kept in the position the bulk of people of Wales want them in, which is opposition.

This whole Labour divide line is being played up by selective interviewing by the BBC and Western Mail. How many labour interviews have you seen from constituencies in Cardiff, Bridgend, Newport, Swansea or Wrexham yet? Those of us wanting this alliance have the numbers. Let's see if at any point the BBC want to talk to any of us.

We should not kid ourselves, if Plaid Cymru want this link up with Labour then they will get it. And that is the big ask. I have been told that Plaid's big guns are still pushing for the rainbow coalition and that those 'very senior' members of Plaid who want to go in with Labour lack influence. For my part, I believe that Ieuan Wyn Jones will get whatever it is he decides that he wants. If he goes to his party's executive and National Council seeking a coalition with Labour then it is likely that they will give it to him. If he decides that he wants to be First Minister then he will get that too.

The other possibility of course is that Plaid will have the prize wrested from their hands. It is clear that Labour would much rather do a deal with the Welsh Liberal Democrats, however it is less than transparent whether we want to go into government with them. In the interests of being insightful, I can reveal that some soundings have already been taken within the party as to what we should do if the rainbow fades away.

Some of its strongest advocates are prepared to be pragmatic and accept that a role for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in government, even if it is with Labour, is a way forward. Others take the view that this is a step too far and that opposition would be a more preferable route. For my own part I am undecided.

As a democrat I have agreed to support the majority view of the Conference and back the rainbow coalition and I will continue to do that whilst it remains a possibility. We have though now come too far for me to be able to revert to my original refusnik role. I still think that the party needs to be overhauled and that we must have a debate on what our role is in the four-party Welsh system, however it now seems that this view has been accepted by the vast majority of our members. I believe that there is a clear and distinctive niche for our party within Welsh politics and that we should be refocussing our work and approach to fit into it.

In the meantime however, we do face the prospect of being marginalised by forces outside our control. We cannot allow that to happen. In order to prevent being sidelined we may well need to take control of the agenda and push for our own solution to the governance of Wales.

Peter, you are absolutely right about the party needing to be overhauled. At the moment I feel we are in too weak a position to contemplate any sort of coalition. Let us get our own house in order first, produce an agreed strategy for approaching the governance of Wales which at least will carry some measure of general support, but above all we need to carry out a thorough review of our policies.
Thats insightful enough for me peter. Keep it up

Where are you? The most significant event so far and no analysis 40 minutes after the on line curtain was raised. We are all at the key board with bated fingers - we need your take........
It is a Saurday night, even Peter is entitles to some time out.
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